A fascinating piece of Apple history is currently available on eBay.
A device sold by 321dady seems to be an iPhone that was used for testing inside Apple in late 2006, before the iPhone was revealed to the world by Steve Jobs in 2007.
Apple fans have bid on the item 72 times, bringing the price to over $13,000 on Wednesday. The 10-day auction still has several days before it closes.
The listing says the phone runs Earthbound, an internal Apple operating system that provides access to testing and development tools, as well as Apple OS X, a desktop operating system. When the iPhone launched in 2007, Jobs said it ran a full version of OS X.
According to the listing, the device was handmade, has custom internal hardware, and is heavier than the iPhone that was eventually released. The listing says it's a "DVT" prototype, or a design verification testing device, meaning it was produced before "PVT" testing, the engineering stage before mass production.
According to the listing, this phone was previously listed on eBay in 2015, when bidding reached $61,000.
However, that eBay listing was taken down, and the device was eventually sold privately for $8,000, according to a person with knowledge of the prototype phone who is not the seller.
"This is definitely one of the rarer units," the person told Business Insider.
Apple prototypes are of heavy interest to a certain subculture of Apple fans who collect prerelease prototypes and nonpublic Apple software.
Prototype devices like this one were often given to or taken by Apple engineers at the end of a project as a souvenir, according to collectors in the community, and some of them eventually make their way onto the market.
Typically, Apple doesn't acknowledge the market for these unreleased but obsolete devices unless they are traded on public forums like Craigslist and eBay. Apple often requests that posts like this one are taken down when they're on public websites. Most trades and sales happen on private channels, according to collectors.
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